Faculty Research and Sponsored Programs

Student-Faculty Collaboration

Saint Peter’s University offers many opportunities for faculty-student collaborations. These opportunities extend learning beyond the classroom, offering students hands-on experience and the chance to develop and hone useful skills that can help with admission to graduate programs and gaining a competitive edge in today’s job market. Faculty-student collaborations often lead to attendance and presentation of project results at regional, national, and international conferences. Some collaborations lead to publications, in some cases, in peer-reviewed professional journals. Students interested in collaborating with a faculty member are encouraged to contact departments for additional guidance.

Below are just some examples of collaboration opportunities and relevant contact information. Students who are interesting in collaborating with faculty from department that are not listed below should feel free to contact the chair of that department and inquire about student-faculty research opportunities.

Physics Students Publish Academic Findings on Oil Spill Research

Two physics students, Prajwal Niraula and Sabin Pradhan, had an article on oil spill research they conducted working under the guidance of Dr. WeiDong Zhu, Associate Professor (Physics Program, Applied Science and Technology Department) that was featured in the spring issue of The SPS Observer, the magazine of the Society of Physics Students. The article can be found on the website of The SPS Observer.

Students Receive TriBeta Research Foundation Grants

A number of students were recently awarded TriBeta Research Foundation grants. These grants are awarded annually to support deserving undergraduate research projects. David Belloso and Sherif Elkattawy received a grant for their project, which examines the antibacterial effects of a mixture of coconut and virgin olive oil soaps on the biofilm inhibition of the pathogen Staphylococcus aureus. The research advisor is Dr. Jill Callahan. German Rojas received a grant for his project, which is focused on the effectiveness of natural remedies to inhibit the growth of Propioibacterium acnes, in order to reduce acne vulgaris. His research advisor is Dr. Fran Raleigh. Nathalie Staiger received a grant for her research on the effectiveness of increased temperature on Caulastrea furcata and its varying ability to recuperate post partial zooxanthellae expulsion. Her research advisors are Dr. Fran Raleigh and Dr. Laura Twersky. MacKenze Sylvester received a grant for a project examining the effects of bacterial intrusion of E. coli on cleavage in Xenopus laevis (clawed frog). The research advisors are Dr. Laura Twersky and Dr. Jill Callahan. Jereena Varghese received a grant for her project on uv-induced cataracts in Xenopus laevis (clawed frog) tadpoles and the use of anti-oxidants as preventive therapy. The research advisor is Dr. Laura Twersky.

Academic Symposium – 2016

IMG_3844Forty-five students and thirteen faculty members collaborated on twenty-one poster presentations at the 2016 Academic Symposium held at the McIntyre Lounge on Wednesday, April 27th.  At the event (which is sponsored by the Rho Nu chapter of TriBeta [the National Biological Honor Society], the Biology Department, and the Office of the Academic Dean), the following students were singled out as having made particularly noteworthy research efforts: First place went to Edwin Rivas (’17) (Faculty Mentor, Dr. Wei-Dong Zhu) for “Gold Nanoparticle Generation with the Assistance of Atmospheric Pressure NonThermal Microplasmas.”  Second place went to Kristian Gutierrez ’16, Genesis Renderos ’17, Tawanda Aquino ’17, and Christian Resurreccion ’18 (Faculty Mentor, Dr. Yosra Badiei) for “A New Method for Measuring Dissolved Oxygen in Catalytic Water Oxidation.”  Third place was awarded to Daniel Centeno ’16 and Ashwin Ambi ’17 (Faculty Mentor: Dr. Christian Traba) for “Antibacterial Effects of Metals Found in Russian Propolis Ethanol Extracts.”  A full list of the participants and abstracts can be found here: xxx.


Academic Symposium 2014

dejesus and carle

Thirty-one student research posters were presented at the Academic Symposium on April 30th, 2014 in the Duncan Sky Room. Forty-eight students and 17 professors collaborated on research in biology, business administration, chemistry, communication & media culture, computer science, nursing, physics, psychology, sociology & urban studies, and theology. The judges including Jeanette Wilmanski and Jill Callahan (Biology), coordinators of the event, awarded First Place to “The Effects of Aspirin and Ibuprofen on Limb Regeneration in the Mexican axolotl, Ambystoma mexicanum,” by Tyler Carle and Anthony DeJesus (Faculty Mentor: Christina Poli) from Biology, Second Place to “Cybersickness and Small Devices,” by Valezka Cruz, Kayla Hanley, Alexandra Velazquez, and Shannon Daniels (Faculty Mentors: Andrea Bubka and Frederick Bonato) from Psychology, Third Place to “Science and the Synthesis of Artificial Scents and Flavors,” by Grishma Patel, Tho Ngo, Peter Telidecki and Justin Johnson (Faculty Mentors: Jessica Epstein and Michael Castaldi), and Honorable Mentions to “The Concrete Jungle becomes Labyrinth: Pilgrimage in the City,” by Enhui Chen, Thomas J. Hrabal, Lisa A. Magallon, Sarah M. Molina, Jerome J. Montero and Jazmin Sanchez (Faculty Mentor: Susan Graham) and “Sammie’s Sandwiches: A Book Proposal,” by Ann Osequera, Lauren Fleites, Natalie Castillo and Marissa Carlucci (Faculty Mentor: Fatima Shaik). See the entire list of presenters and abstracts.


Biology major, Natia Molineros ’14 was awarded first place for her undergraduate research poster at the annual TriBeta regional convention held Saturday April 26, 2014 at the College of Mount Saint Vincent. The title of her presentation was “The Anti-Plaque Analysis of Green Tea and Soursop and Examination of Synergistic Effects with Cinnamic and Caffeic Acids on Streptococcus Mutans Biofilms.”Her research advisor is Dr. Jill Callahan.

Physics, Applied Technology Program

The Independent College Fund of New Jersey (ICFNJ) awards Saint Peter’s physics senior Prajwal Niraula (’15) and physics Sophomore Nnamdi Ike (’17) $2,500 for conducting research on “Self-Organization in Cathode Boundary Layer Discharge in Noble Gas Mixture”. Niraula is a 3-year veteran in research on microplasmas and had received  a research grant from ICFNJ in 2013. An additional $2,500 is awarded to Saint Peter’s physics junior Joseph Ghobrial (a recent transfer student from Hudson County Community College) for conducting research on “Optimizing Melamine Detection by the Application of Novel Substrate in Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS)”. Both Ike and Ghobrial showed strong interests in conducting student research with our faculty and were recently recruited by the Center for Microplasma Science and Technology (CMST) as student research assistants. Niraula and Ike will be advised by Dr. WeiDong Zhu and Ghobrial will be advised by Dr. Debing Zeng in the Department of Applied Science and Technology.


Christopher Ware, Maryellen Hamilton, Donya Green, Mahum Hashmi, Fiona Callagy, Shadman Hassan, Yanitsa Toneva, Elise Soares, Alexandra Velazquez, Shannon Daniels, Michael Greenstein, Sandesh Bhandari, Joshua Feinberg, Andrea Bubka, Frederick Bonato, Valezka Cruz, and Kayla Hanley

EPA 2014 – Boston

Twelve Saint Peter’s University students (including 2 graduates), Drs. Maryellen Hamilton, Michael Greenstein, Joshua Feinberg, Andrea Bubka from the Psychology Department and Dr. Frederick Bonato from Montclair State University attended the Eastern Psychological Association (EPA) conference in Boston March 13-15, 2014. Eight of the students and all faculty presented 10 posters/papers. SPU students also worked alongside students from other colleges at the conference registration. This was Dr. Hamilton’s first year as Treasurer. Drs. Hamilton and Bubka were made EPA Fellows after decades of contributions and service.

Title V Summer Scholars


Title V CollaborationsTwenty students worked individually or on teams with 11 faculty on research projects. The students then presented at the Research Festival in September. The faculty were from Biology, Education, History, Latin American/Latino Studies, Business Management, Political Science and Sociology/Urban Studies. Many went on to present at conferences. Topics included:

  • An Ethical Stance on Embryonic Stem Cells and Induced Pluripotency
  • (Un)Documented: College Students Knowledge and Views on Immigration Issues as They Affect Young People
  • Putative Anti-Antigenic Combinations of Resveratrol using the Chicken Embryonic Membrane
  • Small Business Strategies in Jersey City
  • Parental Perceptions Toward a Highly Structured Inclusive After-School Program for Students With and Without Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Recovering the Voices of Freedmen and Freedwomen: Civil War Pensions for African Americans after the Civil
  • Practices of Freedom Not ‘Fear’dom: The ‘No Papers, No Fear’ Immigrant Movement, Diversity, and Democracy


Twenty students worked individually or on teams with 10 faculty on research projects. The students presented at the Research Festival in September. The faculty this year came from Biology, Health and Physical Education, Education, Latin American/Latino Studies, Business Management, Political Science and Sociology/Urban Studies. As in the case in 2012, many will present their research at academic conferences. Topics included:

  •  Small Business Decision-Making in Jersey City: Findings and Methodological Issues
  • Improvements in Mindfulness in Conjunction with Physical Activity Supports Mindful Behaviors: A Pilot Study
  • Antiplaque Analysis of Green Tea and Examination of Synergistic Effect
  • Non-violent Communication and Conflict Resolution
  • Support and Struggle, Identity and Outlook of Latin@s in Higher Education Charter Schools

Eastern Sociological Society – In March 2013 twelve Saint Peter’s University students presented at the Eastern Sociology Society Meetings on March 22. The panel reflected outcomes from the Title V – Oscar Romero Project activities. The theme for their panel was The Sociological Imagination and Social Justice with Dr. Joseph McLaughlin serving as the discussant. Their papers were Researching of Latin@ Educations – presented by Catalina Adorno, Elsy Castillo, Fiorella Cacho and Gabrielle Sepulveda and with Dr. Jennifer Ayala as their advisor · Campaigning for Student Debt Relief at Saint Peter’s University – presented by Renee Brzyski, Tasheeda Chavis, Julie Obregon and Kaneisha Smith with Dr. Donal Malone as their advisor · Social Embeddedness and (Very) Small Business Decision- Making – presented by Alberto Groves and Julio Herrera with Dr. Mary Kate Meatus and Dr. Alex Trillo as their advisors · Social Media: Vehicle(s) for Social Change: Maybe Too Fast for Sustainability – presented by Veleska Cruz and Kayla Hanley with Dr. David S. Surrey as their advisors The students are majors and minors in Africana Studies, American Studies, Anthropology, Biology, Business and Trade, Chemistry, Criminal Justice, Education, History, Latino/Latina Management and Marketing, Nursing, Political Science, Psychology, Social Justice, Sociology and Urban Studies. The ethnic background of the students reflect the diversity at Saint Peter’s including Italian/Cuban, Polish, Irish/Italian, Cuban/Honduran, Salvadoran, Peruvian, Polish/Italian, Puerto Rican, Mexican, African American, Panamanian and Jamaican.

Biology Department- Many students have collaborated with faculty in the biology department. These projects have often resulted in presentations, papers, and grants, many which are associated with the biology honor society, Beta Beta Beta (Tribeta). For additional information please contact Dr. Laura Twersky.

Center for Microplasma Science & Technology (CMST)- The Center for Microplasma Science and Technology (CMST) offers Saint Peter’s undergraduate students an opportunity to “learn science by doing science”. CMST, located in the basement of McDermott Hall, encompasses three state-of-the-art laboratories and a modern conference room. Qualified students work with one of the Center staff members on atmospheric pressure microplasma device design and characterization, as well as seek for real-life applications. Through this program, students obtain knowledge and skills far beyond what they could have done from traditional classes. For additional information contact Dr. WeiDong Zhu.

Education Department – Take a look at this digital story created by two undergraduate students (Samantha Ellis and Carmen Cartegena). It’s an example of work by students and faculty in the Education Department is the short online video, “A Day in the Life of a SPC Student”. Saint Peter’s students, Samantha Ellis and Carmen Cartegena, with Dr. Nicole Luongo on the project. On Dr. Luongo’s blogspot are other examples of her work with students.

Fine Arts Department – The Jersey City Division of Cultural Affairs along with Pro Arts organized the 22nd Annual Jersey City Artists Studio Tour- On October 13 and 14, Jersey City was the hub of culture and entertainment with hundreds of visual artists exhibiting their paintings, sculptures, photography and prints in galleries, studios and alternative venues. There were also dance and musical performances and a film festival. As a member of the Advisory Committee for Pro Arts and the Studio Tour Committee, as well as an artist participant for many years, Saint Peter’s University faculty member, Beatrice Mady, was able to secure an exhibition space this year for five SPU Graphic Arts majors, Adam Hirsh, Cynthia Kwarula, Jessica Marquez, Sidney Montanez and Samantha Moro, and two minors, Tatiana Lopez and Christopher Walker, to participate in an exhibition entitled F-Stop in Rankin Hall’s Display Case Gallery.

An f-stop is the ratio between the diameter of the aperture in a lens and the focal length of a lens. As the f-stop regulates how much light is allowed through the lens, this setting or the aperture size affects depth of field. This seemed to be an appropriate title for the exhibition, not only because the participants displayed photographic work, but also, and perhaps more importantly because the exhibition gave the students a sharper view of all aspects of creativity and the business of art.

Wanting to give the University’s faculty and staff a better opportunity to view the work, the exhibition opened on October 9 and will run through November 10. Our Meet-and-Greet the Artist Celebration on October 18 was a great success, affording the artists an opportunity to discuss their works with faculty, peers and friends. As this was a professional exhibition, the students had the opportunity to experience all of the necessary requirements and rigors of exhibiting work from matting, installation and lighting, to publicity, promotion, gallery sitting and sales. This is not just another line on their resumes, but an experience that cannot be taught in the classroom.

This year Saint Peter’s University had three sites in the Tour. A show of Professional Photographers in Saint Peter’s Gallery and a space at The Tenmarc Building where I curated another exhibition with among others, two of our graduates, Juan Cardenas and Alyssa Bredin, both of whom are doing very well in the art world. Below left is ‘Layers’ by Adam Hirsh, in the middle, ‘Samy’ by Tatiana Lopez, and below right is ‘Cola’ by Sidney Montanez.

Honors Program – Faculty-student collaboration is an important part of the College’s Honors program. The Honors Program offers students the opportunity to collaborate with faculty members as research assistants. These assistantships often lead to student co-authored conference presentations and/or publications. You can take a closer look at faculty-student collaborations in the Honors Program by going to their student and faculty research webpage. For additional information please contact the Director of the Saint Peter’s College Honors Program, Dr. Rachel Wifall, 201-761-6225.

Mathematics – Two honors student conducted mathematics research work for their 2012 theses. Joe Joyce, working with Dr. Michele Picarelli, built on his interest in sports with “Baseball: A Closer Look at the Home Field Advantage.”  Kapil Bastola, working with Dr. Brian Hopkins, examined a number-theory game in “Enumeration of Austrian Solitaire” which involved looking at current research of mathematicians in Taiwan, Sweden, and the US. Beyond campus, over the summer of 2012, Adam Purcilly conducted original research in geometric Ramsey theory at an Auburn University Research Experience for Undergraduates.  Sarah Heilig, SPU ’11, currently in the graduate mathematics program at New York University, presented her work at MathFest 2012, the summer meeting of the Mathematics Association of America.  Her presentation, “When Prisoners Enter Battle: Natural Connections in 2 x 2 Symmetric Games,” based on work with Brian Hopkins, received one of ten awards from the American Mathematical Society for excellence in student exposition and research. For additional information please contact the Mathematics Department.


Political Science – Karla Mendez is an honors student who is collaborating with Dr. Alexander Mirescu on a research project that has been commissioned by the United Nations. Dr. Mirescu is writing a chapter for an edited volume on global anti-corruption and development issues and Karla’s work will be recognized in the finalized text version. He also plans to bring Karla along as a research assistant to the book launch at the UN Secretariat in Spring 2012.  Read more about this project.

Dr. Mirescu and Karla Mendez

Psychology Department – Student-faculty collaborations are common in the Psychology Department. Projects have been conducted in areas such as cognitive, social, cross-cultural, learning and memory, sensation and perception, and human performance. Students regularly present their work at regional and national conferences. For example, last March students and faculty presented researh and attended the annual meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association held in Pittsburgh, PA (image below). Collaborations have also led to articles published in peer-reviewed journals. For information please contact the Psychology Department, (201) 761-6300.

Sociology and Urban Studies – The Sociology/Urban Studies Department has developed numerous student/faculty collaborations. In most cases the department has added a third dimension that leads to student/faculty/community research-action efforts. Although funding from several grants (Simon Foundation, Schumann Foundation, Ford Foundation and currently Title V) has greatly assisted in expanding these efforts, many of our classes are focussed on collaborative projects. Students and faculty, based on their work with community-based organizations, have presented papers and poster sessions in the past three years at numerous academic conferences including the Eastern Sociological Society, the Society for Applied Anthropology and the Urban Ethnography Conference. Projects have twice included high school students in developing these presentations. In addition students and faculty from the department have collaborated with community partners to do conduct research on affordable housing, the homeless, employment for persons with physical challenges, and census analysis. With these partnerships, that are critical to training our students, the specific projects are developed with 360-degree input. For additional information on student-faculty collaborations in the Sociology and Urban Studies department please conatact Dr. David Surrey.